Merthyr Town v Plymouth Parkway
14 October 2023
Merthyr Town FC, Penydarren Park, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8RF
The visitors arrived from Devon sitting in the bottom four after a stuttering start to the campaign, but on this particular showing they will be just fine.
For some parts of this frustrating, sometimes awkward watch, the Martyrs were a side arguably second best. There were the periods when in possession Merthyr looked comfortable, but times when Plymouth attacked in numbers they placed the home side on the back foot, creating moments when Jamie Cogman had to make a number of crucial saves at key times.
Plymouth defended as a unit, on occasions with six players in a line ahead of Parkes but at the other end they also attacked as a group pushing men forward at every opportunity as the game settled into an unpredictable pattern. Moving the ball about sharply, the Martyrs compact midfield had to be alert to suppress the threat on transition. But as Merthyr pushed forward, things started to happen.
Both Tom Handley and Ricardo Rees had attempts off target, as Crago had his own personal battle with Cogman who made a flying save from his nemesis after 34 minutes.
With the Martyrs unused to attacking the Theatre Royal end in the second half, crafting and finishing chances proved difficult in a goalless first forty-five.
On another day Parkway could easily have taken all three points with them, having executed Lee Hobb’s gameplan to perfection, apart from the very early stages of the second half when Liam Angel turned predator in the opposition six yard box to force a rebound past Parkes from close range, after the goalkeeper's initial save.
The equaliser came after 58 minutes, as a Parkway defender breaks up an attack on the edge of their area, Jack Crago sits on the shoulder of two Merthyr defenders on the half way line. The ball is played 40 yards wide to the left touchline as Crago reacts quickest and the onside decision is marginal to say the least. Now, it’s a race. Alert to the impending danger Cogman run’s from his goal to the Grandstand touchline but is factionally beaten to the ball by Crago, who glides around Cogamn and rolls the ball into the empty goal from 30 yards.
Cue the changes after 70 minutes as Gethyn Hill and Keiran Evans replaced Aneurin Livermore and Frazer Thomas, to provide more impetus and more threat. Alas it didn’t spark the desired outcomes with the game still lying in the balance.
Parkes crucially saved twice from Tom Handley, tipping a fierce drive over the bar at full stretch and then in the final minutes denying the marauding full back with his feet to rescue his side a valuable point in a fighting display.
A point shared in the end and it might not have been the most deserved of points, but it doesn’t matter as its another point on the board. The Welsh flag is still flying high over the David Miles stand.